Tis the season

Sometimes nanotechnology is used for good, sometimes just for silly.  Scientists in England have created the world's smallest snowman.  It follows along with the smallest book, musical instrument and even US flag.  The world's smallest snowman was made by sticking two beads together using a little bit of platinum which is used a lot in nanotechnology to bond other metals together.   Then they carved a pair of eyes and a mouth using an ion beam which is usually used to etch nanometer-sized holes and trenches into metals.  They put this snowman on a tiny cantilever that used to image very small objects.
There is a neat video shows you how big (or small) this little snowman really is.

A lot of people wonder how scientists can find the time to do stuff like making the world's smallest snowman.  Lots of times it is to demonstrate a new technology and why not make something that lots of folks might recognize.  It makes science a bit more human and it also makes the scientists a bit more human.  See scientists also have a sense of humor and making a little snowman at this time of the year is kind of funny.

Happy holidays.

No more dirty windows

Nanotechnology can potentially cure disease or lift a person into space, but on to more important stuff.  Clean windows.  Scientists from Israel have been working on a coating that is self-cleaning.  Using peptides which are short pieces of protein, coatings could be made on a whole bunch of different kinds of things.  So what makes this stuff so neat?  By carefully designing the peptides, scientists could make them very hydrophobic, meaning that they don't like water.  If you can keep the water off the surface you can also keep the dirt.  So when it rains everything comes washing off and what is left is nice and clean.  Same kind of peptide coating is also useful for solar cells and even rechargeable batteries.